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Covered California, Medi-Cal Still Operating After Failed Health Care Bill


California officials say its health insurance exchange and Medicaid expansion will continue operating without any changes after the House Republican health care bill failed to garner enough support.

Covered California was developed as part of the Affordable Care Act. Under the health care law, states could also expand their Medicaid programs to single people without children.

James Scullary, spokesman for Covered California, says things will stay the same for the foreseeable future.

"We've already started working with an eye toward 2018 in terms of getting the best value for our consumers and providing the benefits that help bring that health care within reach and get them access to the care that they need," he says.

During the most recent enrollment period, more than 400,000 Californians signed up for health insurance through Covered California.

In an emailed statement, Jennifer Kent, director of the Department of Health Care Services, says the federal health care proposal that was under consideration by Congress endangered Medi-Cal’s ability to provide health care coverage to millions of Californians in need.  

Under the scrapped health care bill, California would have had to pay $6 billion for Medi-Cal expansion by 2020. That amount would balloon to $24 billion by 2027.

Beginning this year, the federal government pays for 95 percent of Medicaid expansion. It will cost an estimated $19 billion to fund the program for the 2017-2018 fiscal year, according to the California Department of Finance.

One third of California's population is enrolled in Medi-Cal, the state's version of Medicaid.

House Republicans announced plans to come up with another health care bill to replace Obamacare Tuesday.

H.D. Palmer, deputy director of external affairs for the state Department of Finance says it's unclear what Congress may do to the health care system in the near future.

"We will from Sacramento continue to monitor those developments; watch to see what specifics come out of that debate; and to the greatest extent possible determine what changes, if they're on the table, what they mean for California," Palmer says.

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